Do Cats Kill Rats? (The Truth Will Surprise You)

Do cats kill rats? If so, it would make sense to have a cat around to deal with rat problems.

I’m not a cat owner. I have been told that having a cat around is the most effective way to get rid of rats. Most people believe cats are great at hunting, catching, and killing rats. But is there any truth to the many assumptions we hold about cats and their impacts on rat populations in and around our homes and cities?

I didn’t know for sure so I did some research. The information I read, the videos I watched, and the people I talked too provided invaluable insight into the interaction between cats and rats.

So do cats kill rats? Feral cats will, but most pet cats will not kill rats. Your average everyday domestic cat is definitely not the most effective way to get rid of rats. There are better ways to control and kill rats which will be discussed here in detail.

Why Pet Cats Are Not Good Rat Killers

To get a better understanding of why cats do not like killing rats it’s best to look first at their ability and willingness to kill mice.

Due to there small and unaggressive nature mice are easy prey for cats who are looking for their next meal. So if you have mice problems, a few starved and hungry cats could be just the solution you need to get rid of the problem. Cats can easily overpower smaller mice.

However, this is not the case with rats who often grow 10 times larger than mice. Rats are very aggressive by nature, grow to be very large compared to mice and are not afraid to coexist with cats.

Cats are reluctant to go after rats as a food source because the rodent is too big and too aggressive for cats. This fact is especially true when the cat has other food sources. You can’t blame the cat for going after food and small animal prey that does not put them at risk of injury.

Cats actually prefer birds and other smaller mammals and their young. Unlike rats, these animals are easy prey and the risk of the cat being injured while hunting is low.

Most Effective Ways To Get Rid Of Rats

It is widely believed that cats are great at killing rats and making your rodent problem go away. For the most part, we have dispelled this myth. Yes, there a few examples where cities and municipalities have successfully used feral cats to assist in taming and controlling their rodent problems.

But these seem to be isolated events and not easily repeatable in mass throughout other cities in the United States. So if cats are not the answer to rat problems where should we look next to deal with the issue?

So what are the easiest and most effective ways to deal with rodent problems? You basically have two options when it comes to killing off rats:

  1. Limit or cut off the food supply
  2. Introduce a natural predator (dogs, feral cats)

Let us discuss limiting or cutting the rat’s food supply first. This is something that can easily be implemented in your home or throughout your neighborhood if rats are a community problem.

Rats are not picky eaters and will eat anything edible that they can find. You can starve them out by limited there food supply. This can be accomplished by properly disposing of food waste. Any food that is placed out as garbage must be done so as to prevent rats from feeding.

Think of ways you can reduce your trash footprint as well. This will also go along way toward restricting and limiting the amount of food that is available to rats. When rats have no food to eat they will relocate and no longer be a problem for you and your home.

Use Dogs To Kill Rats

Most pet owners turn to cats to fix their rodent problem when dogs are a better option. Dogs are more effective and better able to deal with rats. The reason being dogs are larger and can be very aggressive when trained to hunt and kill rats.

There is a group of dog owners living in New York who have formed a rat-hunting club. These owners go hunting with eight dogs at a time and say that a trained dog can kill as many as 5 rats in a minute.

This is a very effective rodent removal strategy in a city like New York where alleys are overflowing with the garbage that is the feeding and breeding ground to hundreds of rats.

Can Feral Cats Change A Rats Behavior?

They are mixed reports about the effectiveness of feral cats to kill and reduce rat populations. Feral cats may not kill as many rats as people would expect, but the sure can scare rats away from a given area.

Findings from a recent 2017/208 study indicate that feral cats are no match for rats and useless at catching and killing these rodents. The researchers of the study did observe and notice considerable behavior changes in the rats whenever the cats were present.

The cats spooked and made the rats so uncomfortable they would leave the area (read more on this study in the paragraph below).

Feral ratter programs implemented in places like Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C. have all seen success. In LA feral cats have been strategically placed in high-trafficked rodent areas. Mice were killed and rats were run off to other locations when the feral cats were introduced to the area.

The lesson we can learn is that feral cats can improve the situation when placed in areas that have rodent problems.

Study Shows Cats Are No Match For City Rats

I read one interesting rat study that was conducted at a New York waste management recycling plant. The findings suggested that cats are useless at catching rats. Researchers installed cameras at the recycling plant where a group of five feral cats had taken up residence alongside a colony of 120-150 rats.

The study lasted just over 5 months, during which time that saw two cats make just 3 attempts at catching rats. Out of the 3 attempts on two attacks were a success both resulting in the cat killing the rat. In addition, over a 79 day period, the 5 cats did participate in 20 stalking attempts where the harassed and tried to capture and kill the rats.

The cats didn’t kill as many rats as to be expected, however, they did change the rats’ behavior. When the cats came around, rats hide or relocated away from the cats.

Based on the results of the study it’s safe to safe that if you have rat problems cats are not the answer. You would be better off cutting off the rat’s food supply.

Watch the video below. You’ll see some actual footage from the rat study that was conducted at the New York recycling plant.

Related Questions

Can a rat smell a cat? Yes, rats can smell cats. Cats naturally produce a chemical release that terrifies rats and mice. Anytime cats are around they will make rodents uneasy. It is important to note that in many cases domesticated pet cats are unlikely to scare rats away.  The rats are just too big, aggressive, and not intimidated by pet house cats.

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Lynn Edwards

I founded DIY Pest Control Guide with the intention of sharing practical, user-friendly pest control strategies. If you need assistance, reach out to me at - I'm here to help you reclaim your peace of mind.

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